Toronto impaired driving victim calls for prevention, stiffer penalties
2 high-profile crashes in Ontario in recent weeks
A woman severely injured in a Toronto-area car crash that killed her husband and teenage daughter says she will spend the rest of her life advocating for better laws to prevent impaired driving.
Antonette Wijeratne said she also believes the courts need to impose harsher sentences, saying she was disappointed Sabastian Prosa got a five-year sentence last week.
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And with two other high-profile impaired driving fatalities in Ontario in the last month, Wijeratne's call has been amplified on social media and through calls to advocacy groups like MADD Canada.
'Pain you feel in your bones'
"Losing a child, you lose yourself, too," Wijeratne told CBC News. "That pain you feel in your bones, in every cell in your body. Over time, you get used to it but it never goes away."
It's a pain that she says connects her to the Neville-Lake family, parents of Daniel, Harry and Milly, who died in a horrific crash in Vaughan, Ont., Sept. 27 that also killed their grandfather. The Neville-Lakes are also calling for stiffer sentences for drunk drivers. They have asked the public to begin a letter-writing campaign to politicians, judges and lawyers.
"Sentences are based on precedents," the family wrote on their Go Fund Me memorial trust.
Marco Muzzo, 29, was expected to appear in court on Monday to face impaired driving charges in the deaths of the Neville-Lake family, but the case has been delayed until Nov. 12. The King Township, Ont., man's lawyer asked for more time to review disclosure.
'In the future I will save someone'
That trial could stretch for years, a painstaking process that forces victims to relive their loss, Wijeratne said.
"I lost my child, I lost my husband but even though I couldn't save them, in future I will save someone, some family, some child [by] supporting MADD Canada to help change the laws."
MADD Canada has continued to petition the Ontario government to adopt legislation aimed at prevention of impaired driving, its chief executive officer told CBC News.
Andrew Murie said he most wants to see the province implement mandatory breath screening, which would allow police to ask any driver for a blood-alcohol sample. He said countries like Australia that have adopted mandatory screening have seen a significant drop in impaired driving fatalities.
The advocacy group has also pushed Ontario to follow British Columbia's example and impound a driver's vehicle if they have a blood-alcohol reading of 0.05 — or 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood
In Ontario, drivers will have their licenses suspended with such a reading, but still have access to their cars.
Murie said between the law's introduction in 2010 and 2011, the province saw a 50 per cent drop in impaired driving fatalities. Alberta has since adopted a similar law.